Team China figure skater Zhu Yi was left in tears after falling twice during her routine in the Winter Games’ women’s single free skating event on Monday.
Due to her performance, the California-born athlete finished last on the third day of the figure skating team event with a score of 91.41, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).
“I was very emotional during the routine and wanted to cry. I couldn’t hold it back, and the tears came flowing,” the 19-year-old was quoted as saying. “All of that is in the past. I hope I can adjust myself and compete well in my singles event.”
Zhu, who gave up her American citizenship in 2018 to compete for China, has been receiving heavy online criticism from local fans since she suffered the mishaps during her Olympic debut on Sunday, reported CNN.
During the women’s short program team event on Sunday, she also finished with the lowest score after tumbling on the ice and missing some jumps. While attempting to land her first combination triple flip-triple toe loop jump, Zhu fell and crashed into the rink’s barrier, then missed another attempt at a triple loop later on in her routine.
Zhu’s final score of 47.03 resulted in China dropping from the third place to fifth place in the team event rankings. Despite the fall, the Chinese figure skating team is still qualified to compete in the next round.
While Zhu received applause before her performance on Sunday from the mostly Chinese audience at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium, after her routine she faced insults on Chinese social media, where many questioned why an American-born skater was chosen to represent China.
On Weibo, the hashtag “Zhu Yi has fallen” became a top trending topic, generating around 200 million views a few hours after Zhu’s performance.
“This is such a disgrace,” read a comment that received over 11,000 likes.
“Anyone would question how she was chosen to the team. Is it because she has a scientist father?” a user wrote on Weibo, according to Reuters. Her father, Zhu Songchun, is a renowned artificial intelligence scientist who left his professorship at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2020 to serve as director for Peking University’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
In addition to pointing at Zhu’s allegedly privileged background and prominent family members, Chinese netizens have also shamed her for her lack of Chinese language fluency, reported CNN.
“Please let her learn Chinese first, before she talks about patriotism,” a Weibo user posted, according to the news outlet.
Comments criticizing Zhu were eventually removed from the online platform, SCMP reported.
Some social media users defended the young athlete and urged other fans to stop hurling insults at her.
“The level of our team is still far behind Russia and the U.S.,” a commenter wrote. “It already showed courage by coming to the stage. No one who competes for the first time can perform perfectly. It’s okay if she can adjust her condition in the next competition.”
Raised by a Chinese immigrant family in Los Angeles, the teen figure skater changed her name from Beverly Zhu to Zhu Yi after renouncing her American citizenship.
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